U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had an Oval Office meeting, on Tuesday, aimed at underscoring the U.S.-British alliance.
The two leaders discussed climate change, trade and bantered about the joys of rail travel during the meeting. In like manner, here are top highlights of the White House meeting.
Biden told Johnson he looked forward to being in the United Kingdom for a United Nations conference on global warming later this year.
“We need you there,” Johnson told Biden.
“Oh, we’re going to be there,” the president replied. “With bells on, as they say.”
Beginning at the end of October, the UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow is viewed as a critical moment for the world to halt global warming.
Under Biden administration, the United States has renewed pledges to cut greenhouse gases and promised to finance projects to combat climate change.
“It’s fantastic to see the United States really stepping up and showing a lead – a real, real lead,” Johnson said.
Post-Brexit Trade Rules
Biden has warned the prime minister that peace in Northern Ireland must not be jeopardised by tensions over post-Brexit trade rules.
He stressed the importance of maintaining the careful balance that was achieved by the Good Friday/Belfast agreement.
“I feel very strongly,” the president asserted, when asked about the Northern Ireland protocol. “We spent an enormous amount of time and effort in the United States. It was a major partisan effort, and I would not like to see – nor would many of my Republican colleagues – a change in the Irish accord.”
Responding to Biden, Johnson said: “We are completely at one, because nobody wants to see anything that interrupts or unbalances the Belfast or Good Friday agreement.”
UK-US Trade Deal
The two leaders “had agreed to continue working towards a future full free trade agreement”, according to Downing Street.
Johnson had earlier downplayed chances of securing a deal with the US before the next general election, saying: “The Americans do negotiate very hard.”
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office before the talks, Biden said: “We’re going to talk about trade a little bit today, and we’re going to have to work that through.”
A source familiar with the government’s thinking suggested to the BBC that the UK could negotiate entry into an existing trade arrangement between the US, Canada and Mexico – known as the USMCA.
“There are a variety of different ways to do this,” the source said. “The question is whether the US administration is ready. The ball is in the US’s court. It takes two to tango.”
Johnson Jokes with Biden: “You’re living deity”
Biden and Johnson bonded over a shared love of trains during an Oval Office meeting. Johnson rode a train from New York City to Washington and joked that Biden is a “living deity” on Amtrak.
“They love you,” Johnson said to Biden, seemingly referring to the U.S. railway staff. “Well, they should,” replied Biden, a regular train commuter for more than 30 years.